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Learning to Love Yourself

I have been meaning to write about this topic for a long time. I was recently spurred to action by a conversation with a friend where we shared tales of how we speak to ourselves. If we are dealing with a friend who has fallen off the wagon or fallen short of a weight goal, we are supportive and constructive in our responses. When we are dealing with ourselves we are judgmental and cruel.

I have spoken to a lot of people about weight loss goals over the last few years, and one common misconception a lot of people seem to have is that meeting our weight goals will magically make us go from hating our bodies to loving our bodies. Not true. Being comfortable in your own skin is a skill that needs to be practiced from the very first day you start practicing portion control or a new exercise regime.

I am by no means an expert on being completely kind and loving to oneself, but I have come a long way from being a completely self-destructive bulimic (in large part thanks to DDP Yoga), so I thought I would share what has worked for me in the hopes it can help others to do the same.

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Early in my DDP Yoga journey, I stumbled up the story of the woman in this picture, Taryn Brumfitt. She is my hero. She loves her body before (when she was a fitness model) and she loves it after (with a “mom” body). She is a phenomenal role model for how we should treat ourselves.

Women can be especially prone to hating their bodies, and harboring negative thoughts about themselves. We should love everything about ourselves, and we have to actively and consciously work on undoing all the years of negativity we have had drummed into us from various sources in society.

I’m betting the majority of us who do DDP Yoga took it up because we wanted to lose weight. That’s great. It’s great to be on a healthy path and a journey of self-improvement. However, DDP Yoga is all about health, and a happy, positive view of ourselves is part of that health. It is not a good idea to wait to get to your weight goals and assume that self-acceptance will magically happen once you get there. It won’t. The journey to our weight goals and good health will be a lot smoother and more enjoyable if we feel comfortable in our own skin from the get-go.

I spent a long time hating myself and my body. During that time I thought of my body as a completely separate entity from myself, and I worked against it. By “worked against it” I mean I abused it with eating disorders, substance abuse, dangerous workout regimes, followed by a period of completely giving up, which led to an unhealthy sedentariness and overeating. Thanks to the lessons of DDP Yoga, and the supportive community I found with it, I finally started to think of my body as part of me. That led me to the realization that I needed to get to a place where I loved and appreciated my body. Having never done that before, it didn’t come naturally to me. I took a series of conscious and proactive steps toward accepting and loving myself. Here’s what I did, hope it helps:

Step 1: What don’t you hate?

Write down one thing you love about your body. Something that you really enjoy about it. And no passive aggressive frenemy bullshit like “I love how my ugly fat can be hidden with black clothes.” Something you actually enjoy about your body! Anytime you have a negative thought about your body, read that note of positivity, or say it out loud over and over until you have expelled the negative thought from your mind. Or just think about that part of your body, even when you’re not feeling bad about yourself. Go look at it in the mirror, or post a picture on Instagram. Over time, try to add more and more physical features into the mix.

Step 2: You’re Amazing

Continuing with this theme, think about how amazing your body is, and all the incredible things it has done for you. Take a few minutes to think about one amazing feat that your body did for you, and why you are grateful to your body for it! I’m amazed that my body allowed me to have a painless, natural childbirth. I’m also amazed it ran a marathon and up the Hancock building in spite of what my negative physical therapist predicted it would ever be able to do. Yes my body has stretch marks below my belly button, but it gave me a beautiful daughter, and allowed me to have a perfectly natural and painless birth of a 9 lb 7 oz baby who was born in under 20 minutes. Yes I have a pretty gross damaged vein on my right ankle, but that ankle is part of the legs that ran twenty-six point frickin’ two miles after only 1.5 hours of sleep!

It’s certainly important to love how your body looks. But it’s also really important not to lose track of all the other things your body does for you. Appearance is just one facet of our bodies’ worth. Our bodies are these amazing machines that have allowed us to every wonderful experience we have ever had, and have enabled us to achieve any success we have ever enjoyed. They have been our loyal companions, and the least we could do is take the time to appreciate the things they have done for us instead of calling them “fat” or “ugly.”

Step 3: Eye of the Beholder

When we look at ourselves, we don’t look at the whole picture; we hone in on one specific feature, usually the one we like the least, and amplify the impact is has out of all proportion. When we look at other people, we look at the whole person. We still see their flaws but we see them in context. The person may have a crooked tooth or a pimple, but their attractive features outweigh their shortcomings.

Think about nice things have other people have said about your body or your looks? What do you get compliments on most frequently?

How do you take compliments? Do you allow your own self-esteem interfere with your ability to accept the praise, or do you thrive a little too much on it, as if you were trying to replace an internal sense of self worth with external accolades? What can you do to be more at ease with the nice sentiments people offer you?

Next time you look at yourself in the mirror, try to stand back and take in the whole picture. Not just one little blemish or unattractive feature. Also, try to look at the feature that elicited compliments from others and see what it was they saw.

This is an incredibly nerdy reference… We’re probably soulmates if you got it!

 Step 4: Seeking Own Worst Critic, Apply Within.

What thing(s) do you hate most about your body? What makes you shudder when you see it in the mirror, makes you change the clothing options you allow yourself, makes you hide it from other people’s view?

Rather than just reinforcing your feelings of self-loathing, try to really examine what exactly you feel about this feature. Anger, sadness, embarrassment? What exactly is about this feature that evokes this response? Remind yourself that your extra fat, loose skin, wrinkles, zits are just some of cells that make up your body, which in turn is only one part of the many things that make up you. Remind yourself of all the other things that make up you. Are you a great mom, do you excel in your career, are you an amazing cook, a great friend?

To gain some perspective, if you saw someone else with this “shortcoming”, would you think they should feel that way? Would you be as revolted if you saw it in someone else? (spoiler: the answer is no!) What would you tell someone else by way of advise about an issue they had with their body in order to give them some perspective, and to help them love their body as a whole, and to stop focusing on one minor flaw? Try to see yourself that same way, and to counsel yourself the way you would counsel someone else in your situation.

Please think of more ways to love everything about your body, even the things you dislike the most. When you are evaluating your own body, please remember that you are a much harsher judge of how you look that anyone else. In this article from the (ugh) Daily Mail, women consistently judge themselves as being heavier than they actually are in a silhouette test. You do this too!

And this Dove short film speaks for itself. Please watch it; it’s really powerful:

I hope this helps. If you think of anything else that could benefit those on a similar journey please let me know and I will add it it. Loving ourselves is an evolving journey and these are only the first steps. I am still on this path, and I will share more in the future as I learn more myself.

DDP Yoga Is Everywhere… And It Delivers!

One of Diamond Dallas Page’s favorite sayings is “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” He has a hour-long motivational talk dedicated to the concept!

Normally, as a scholar of DDP Yoga, I am very adherent to this philosophy, but a recent article from Men’s Journal completely derailed that effort. Adam Bluestein wrote a piece called, “DDP Yoga Is Everywhere, But Does It Deliver?“.

Were I to have written an article with that title, the main body would have read as follows:

Yes.

Granted, it wouldn’t earn me much if I were paid per word. But what it lacked in financial gain, it would have made up in accuracy.

Mr Bluestein, on the other hand, didn’t let economically worthless ideas like accuracy stand in his way of smearing words onto a page. I’m not going to be exhaustive, but I will rebut the most egregious arguments he makes:

The promised cardio- and fat-burning benefits are less certain. A 2006 study found that performing vigorous ashtanga-style yoga only increased heart rate by about 30 beats per minute over resting, comparable to walking, but nowhere near running, swimming, or spinning.

A 2006 study of Ashtanga yoga? Interesting factoid if we were actually talking about Ashtanga yoga. A wildly misleading point to make when you’re talking about DDP Yoga. It would be comparable to saying,  “Jeremy Clarkson says that the Ford F150 is the worst vehicle he’s ever driven, so that proves Cadillac CTS is a shoddy piece of junk.” Different products, different manufacturers.

I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Bluestein (okay, so I got into a brief fight with him on Twitter, but we’re twisting facts to fit our narratives now, right?), and asked him if he had actually tried DDP Yoga, given the article read as if he hadn’t.

“Yes I’ve done it and think it’s a great workout, as I said.”

he replied, adding:

Not saying there’s no cardio benefit. Depends how hard you’re working…”

Hmm, seems he softened his views about the cardio potential since declaring:

Don’t rely on it as a stand-alone cardio… routine.

Rather than talking in circles, I decided to switch gears to the Ashtanga v. DDP Yoga issue.  I showed him data I produced demonstrating the difference between Ashtanga/Power Yoga, and DDP Yoga:

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I didn’t get a reply to that one. But then I remembered that someone who compared scientific data from a study of one branch of yoga to a completely unrelated hybrid yoga probably doesn’t have the scientific literacy required to read graphed data. So, I set up my laptop in the closet of my yoga room, and gave a live demonstration:

I didn’t get any replies to that one as of yet. While we wait for Mr. Bluestein to publicly and without reservation admit that he was, in fact, wrong to use Ashtanga data to dispute the merits of DDP Yoga, I will move to my next point of contention.

In both the article and our interview/Twitter fight, he held firm to the “it’s nowhere near as good as running” argument, asserting that it would only raise your heart rate by 30 bpm over resting. Really? Here’s my heart rate monitor data from a 1 hour DDP Yoga workout (including warm-up and cool-down), and a 4.5 mile run I went on (excluding cool-down).

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Granted, the running is a little higher (136 bpm v. 157 bpm), but it’s a far cry from the NINETY-EIGHT BEATS PER MINUTE at which Mr. Bluestein believes I would max out doing DDP Yoga. Like I said, I stopped my HRM during the cool-down, so the two cardio forms may be even closer than I show here. In addition, I like to sprint the last half-mile of a run. This drives my heart rate up to about 180 bpm (and thus the overall average heart rate too). Tougher cardio? Sure. Healthier? Absolutely not. DDP Yoga teaches us to get from resting into our fat-burning zones, but also, not to exceed it. DDP likens this to driving in the red. You’ll certainly get there faster, but there’s a good chance you’ll be junking that car before too long. And unlike a car, you can’t simply junk your cardiopulmonary system and buy a new one.

I’ll close this rebuttal with a little history lesson. Another point of contention that cropped up over this article was whether or not DDP Yoga promises ripped abs and shredded bodies, or massive weight loss. First, the quotes Mr. Bluestein used came from the program guide that comes with the DVDs, so that isn’t really a marketing device (you already own the DVDs if you’re reading that guide*). Second, the actual quotes he’s referencing are:

Ripped abs require a Red Hot Core workout!

Commit to three times a week and you won’t believe the results! Kick it up to four or five times a week and you’re on your way to that highly energetic, jacked, stacked, and shredded body that you’ve always wanted!

Make sure to take a look at the Nutrition Guide and learn how to complement your fitness routine with a simple weight loss plan that will maximize your results.

Certainly, it took Mr. Bluestein’s patented information-twisting skills to interpret these quotes as a claim of being a total fitness solution. But the really bizarre part of this argument was everyone leaping to DDP Yoga’s defense by pointing out that these weren’t marketing tools employed by DDP Yoga, and that DDP Yoga had not historically been designed to be a weight loss system. In fact, the most successful weight loss story associated with DDP Yoga, Arthur Boorman, didn’t take up DDP Yoga to lose weight; he tried it to relieve back pain. The weight loss was just a happy surprise.

But whether or not DDP intended to create a phenomenal weight loss system doesn’t negate the fact that he did create a phenomenal weight loss system. His original goal for DDP Yoga cannot detract from Stacey, Arthur, Terri, Doug, Kevin, Christina or my weight loss, nor that of all the other people at the DDP Yoga Transformation page that have lost 100s and 100s of pounds.

The same goes for getting ripped muscles and crazy washboard abs. I don’t understand why everyone leapt to pointing out that DDP Yoga didn’t directly make these claims rather than pointing out that it actually DELIVERS on those claims (whether or not they were made). I could draw your attention to  Stacy, Sparky and Motown on the Transformation page. I could also invite you to come gaze at pictures of Chad’s abs with me for a couple of hours. But every workout system has carefully selected examples of success stories they present as proof of their delivering on promises. Granted DDP Yoga has more examples of success stories than all the other systems put together, and those pictures are user-submitted (not the usual photoshopped smoke and mirrors), but DDP Yoga also has infinite numbers of people who aren’t on the transformation page who also have amazing results.

I put out a request for Before & After pictures of people who are not featured success stories on the DDP Yoga Facebook group, and here is what I got in under 24 hours:

Ed

Ed

Robert

Robert

Roger

Roger

David

David

Sharon

Sharon

Ashley

Ashley

Nicole

Nicole

Christina

Christina

Travis

Travis

I’d say these people think that DDP Yoga delivers, wouldn’t you, Mr. Bluestein?

Of course, this wouldn’t be a lizDDPyoga post without a little shameless self-promotion, so I will throw my (admittedly Transformation page-documented) results into the mix too:

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Liz

Because I am trying to live at 90% as DDP teaches, I will end on a positive note. If you want to read a well-written and accurate review of DDP Yoga at the Men’s Journal website, I highly recommend you read this one!

* a distinction that completely eluded Mr. Bluestein.

The Ultimate Guide to What DDP Yoga Could Do For You!

DDP Yoga has done so much for me that it’s hard to put it all in one post. So I am cheating and presenting an omnibus of posts instead! Click on a picture to see one of the many ways DDP Yoga can improve your life!

What will DDP Yoga do for you?

Fix your mental health?

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Fix your physical health?

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Fix your chronic pain?sore_knee

Fix Your Career?

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Prevent future injuries and stiffness?

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Make you drop an amazing amount of weight in 90 days?

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Let you wear all the clothes in your wardrobe…

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…or require you to buy a new one?

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Give you a nice big novelty cheque?

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Help you develop balance like never before?

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Fix your skin?

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Let you turn fitness into a career?

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Let you find your passion for helping others?

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Let you exceed your goals?

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Earn a cool new tattoo?

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Or improve your math skills?

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(Okay, so it’s probably not going to help with your math skills!)

 

Maybe it will improve your motivation?

What do you want from DDP Yoga?

Family Photo

Today is Throwback Thursday, and I am sharing a memory I’d rather throw in the trash!

When my daughter was 1 year old, and I was yet to reach my heaviest weight, we decided to have a family portrait taken. My friend is an extremely talented photographer, so we hired her for a couple of hours and went out for a walk at a local reservoir.

I was really excited for the shoot, and had every last detail planned out. We put on our nicest casual clothes, and dressed Vivienne up, as she was the star of the show. I did my hair and make-up as nice as I could, and put on my favourite jeans and a cute top. I checked myself in the mirror before we headed out and remember thinking that I looked cute. I had a number of ideas for poses and a very clear vision in my mind as to how the pictures would look.We had a fun day out, and everyone posed nicely, even my 1-year-old daughter!

A couple of days later, Kristin gave us some beautifully packaged CD with our pictures. I excitedly opened the disk on my computer to look at all the amazing photographs Kristin had take. My husband looked handsome, and my daughter looked precious. Kristin caught a couple of pictures where her precocious personality really shone through, and they were sent off for immediate printing.

One of the first pictures I saw of myself made me look like I had a double (or triple) chin, a puffy, circular face, and eyes sunken in to face behind layers of fat, which was in stark contrast to how I thought I would look. “That’s okay,” I thought, “It’s probably just a bad angle. There are hundreds of pictures here; they can’t all be cover photos!”

I scrolled through more and more photos, and I just couldn’t find one in which my face looked angular and sleek, or my top fitted in a way that I looked slim. My legs looked enormous. I had saddlebags that I had never seen before. Despite the 6″ of height my husband has on me, I was the one who looked wider. It was simply heart-breaking. When choosing the photos to print, I had to narrow down the selection to a few in which I somehow looked okay, either because I was looking up, or had been obscured by other objects. The biggest disappointment was the failure to find a nice picture in which we were all holding hands and walking away from the picture; I had wanted to frame a large version of that pose, but I couldn’t have a near life-sized reminder of my back fat hanging over the fireplace!

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Though I was really upset, this actually wasn’t my rock-bottom moment. It was one of several disappointments or upsets regarding my physique that I buried beneath unhealthy amounts of unhealthy eating, depression and denial. It ended up taking another year, and an additional 10 lbs of weight, before I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started taking responsibility for my own health and happiness.

I’m glad I did finally take that responsibility and start my DDP Yoga journey. Though I wish I had done so before we went on this shoot, I have to assume that I wouldn’t have been ready to make the change back then, and the Universe knew when things needed to happen, and in what order.

We’ll do a nice family photo-shoot someday. In the meantime, I always have a smile put on my face anytime I walk by the prints of some of the photos we got that day!

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PS. It may not be the high-quality imaging that Kristin produces, but here’s how me and my daughter behave in front of cameras these days!